Overture begins for new Opera 6.0

Summary:Opera says that it has fixed an 'embarrassing' security hole in its beta version of Opera 6.0 and is now poised to release the final copy of the alternative browser.

Opera Software said it has fixed a security problem in the latest version of its Web browser, which will be officially released Thursday.

The updated Opera 6.0 closes a security hole involving JavaScript that allowed malicious programmers to gain unauthorized access to certain files--the first known security vulnerability associated with the Opera browser, which first appeared in 1996. It also fixes several other issues, including problems accessing Web pages.

"This is the first time we had such (a security) issue, and obviously it's embarrassing," said Jon S. von Tetzchner, chief executive of the Oslo, Norway-based company. "But at least...we have fixed it."

The final release of Opera 6.0 comes two weeks after the company offered a beta version at Comdex Fall 2001.

The latest version could increase Opera's appeal to consumers as the company continues to fight in the browser wars. Since Microsoft now basically gives away its Internet Explorer, however, browsers themselves are not essentially a source for revenue, analysts say.

"One of the things that we've learned a long time ago in the browser business is that the most technologically superior product doesn't always win," said Allen Weiner, vice president of Nielsen/NetRatings. Companies "can add all the bells and whistles they want. But unless they're going to get every PC manufacturer to put it on their desktop or cell phones or Web phones or Web TVs or whatever, they don't stand a chance of making very much money from it."

Opera is attempting to weave its browser into non-PC devices, such as advanced mobile phones and set-top boxes. So far, it has been selected to provide the browser for handsets by the U.K-based mobile-software unit of Psion. Opera also released a browser for Symbian's EPOC operating system for next-generation cell phones and other mobile Internet devices.

"What we are hoping is that we can continue to grow our new user base and significantly open all these new markets, such as the Asian market (and Eastern European) market," Tetzchner said. "What we're trying to do is be the emulative browser in the marketplace--being the one to come up with new ideas and do the new things."

Opera 6.0 lets people read online content that is written in non-Roman alphabets, such as Chinese and Japanese. The browser also offers enhanced display windows, including a choice of single or multiple document interfaces.

Opera 6.0 for Windows is available for free if the Web user agrees to view advertising. An ad-free version, however, requires a one-time registration fee of $39.

Topics: Browser, Mobile OS, Security

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